Gaza Strip residents go to the polls for the first time (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) 01/27/05 1:13 AM ET)
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GAZA CITY (AFP) - Voting began today in ten localities in the first
municipal elections organised in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian
More than 90,000 voters are entitled to cast their ballots in 167
voting centres to choose 188 members of municipal councils from among
440 candidates, many of them independents
The towns voting included Beit Hanoun and Deir el Balah but not Gaza
Polling stations were due to close at 7:00 pm (1700 GMT).
The Palestinian authority has decided to run the municipal polls in
stages. The first phase took place in parts of the West Bank last
month. Now it is the turn of the Gaza Strip.
In April another 50 percent of the Palestinian territories will go to
The Fatah party of Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and the radical
Islamist movement Hamas both claimed to have won a majority of the
seats available in the 26 municipal elections held in the West Bank
on December 26.
This confusion was due mainly to conflicting claims on independent
Abbas has pledged to clean up the widespread corruption within the
Palestinian Authority but Hamas is hoping that disillusioned voters
will turn to them rather than members of Abbas´s own Fatah ruling
According to the Palestinian ministry of local affairs, the turnout
rate was over 80 percent with some 140,000 Palestinians voting,
almost half of them women. (Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse.
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